Ream's Food Stores Founder Dies

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Ream's Food Stores Founder Dies

SALT LAKE CITY -- Paul Ream, the founder of family-owned grocery chain Ream's Food Stores, died at his home here this week after a long illness. He was 92 years old.

According to published reports, Ream opened his first grocery store at 890 W. Center St. in Provo in 1949. In the 1950s he began selling war surplus merchandise out of case lots at wholesale prices plus 10 percent -- what Ream referred to as the "cost-plus concept." The idea made him a multimillionaire.

Later, Ream discovered he could buy old-label merchandise at huge discounts, and started using the basement of his Provo store as a clearinghouse for wholesalers that wanted to unload such goods. Sales from his Center Street bargain basement soon surpassed that of the rest of the store, and the "cost-plus concept" became a fixture at Ream's locations.

Today his company operates that store and nine others in Salt Lake, Wasatch and Davis counties. His children and grandchildren manage four other Ream's stores in Utah County.

Among his philanthropic works, Ream donated money to help start a $1 million trust fund for senior citizens at the Eldred Center in Provo, and also helped fund many scholarships, community and self-help programs for American Indians via golf tournaments.

Ream's survivors include Cleo, his first wife; their three children; six grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren; and Ruby, his second wife; five stepdaughters; 16 step-grandchildren; and seven step-great-grandchildren.